Shot by Roy Riley, Styled by Hannah Cork
It’s tempting to stock up on mementos when you’re on your travels. But what works in a Moroccan riad can look woefully out of place back in Britain. Our resident interiors stylist Hannah Cork shares her tips for choosing what to buy and how to make it work in your home.
When in Rome…
Purchasing ethnic artisanal homeware seems like a super idea when you’re deep in the souk. But being in holiday mode can lead to making uncharacteristic purchases which remain under the bed for many dusty years to come. But knowing what to buy (and how to display) objects collected on your travels will enable your home to reflect your experiences and make it entirely unique and individual to you. Avoid attempting to completely re-create the interiors you’ve experienced on your travels. Moroccan riads, Norwegian log cabins and Cornish beach huts are extremely appealing in situ, but the style can get lost in translation when transported to your home. As I always tell my clients, a successful interior with longevity mixes styles, provenance and periods, rather than sticking to one ‘look’.
What to buy
Consider what is realistic to get back to base. Shipping rugs, sculptures and artwork takes organisation and money. If you’re travelling to Asia or Africa, opt for handmade textiles such as embroidery, tapestry and batiks, which can easily be rolled into your suitcase. After a quick iron, these look stunning framed with a plain bevelled mount and hung on a wall or propped on a console table.
Ensure you pick a fabric with colours that tie in with existing accents in your room, such as cushions, throws or rugs, to ensure it doesn’t look incongruous. Throws and blankets also serve as great reminders of holidays past and are simple to work into your home. These are easily carried in hand luggage and can keep you cosy on a long haul flight. Seek out small ceramics such as tea or egg cups which can be wrapped in t-shirts in transit and then styled into an open kitchen shelf alongside other pieces of collected pottery. If you’re heading to Mexico or Portugal, locally made wheel-thrown bowls look wonderful nonchalantly stacked to add some pattern, texture or colour to your scheme.
How to style it
When it comes to styling your collections, do not be limited by the type of item. Any small object which appeals to you visually – from bottles to boxes, mugs to masks and stones to skulls (of the animal variety) – can successfully form the basis of a curated still life on a shelf or console table.
Consider the staples of styling: the size, shape, colour, texture, material and pattern of each object. Lay out everything you wish to display out – old and new – and group objects together in trios. Mix heights and shapes to create some drama. You can do this by placing some items on a low stack of hardback books. Introducing different textures and materials by using framed fabric as a backdrop, or by styling in some plants and greenery, will help the objects look right at home.